Recently in Sharing in the News Category

August 16, 2010

The Sustainable Economies Law Center Wants to Help You Share

The Sustainable Economies Law Center was recently featured in the East Bay Express, including an interview by Bernice Yeung with Janelle Orsi.

The Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) facilitates the growth of sustainable, localized, and just economies, through legal research, professional training, resource development, and education about practices such as:

· Cooperatives
· Community-supported enterprises
· Barter
· Sharing
· Local currencies
· Intentional communities, ecovillages, cohousing
· Affordable housing and limited equity housing
· Urban agriculture
· Community-based renewable energy
· Community land trusts
· Social enterprise
· Microlending
· Local investing
· Co-op banks/credit unions

In addition to creating and making available resources to the public, SELC provides training to legal professionals, student interns, and others, empowering them with tools to bring about more sustainable, localized, and just economies.  SELC also convenes special working groups, bringing together experts and practitioners from various fields, for the purpose of investigating, collecting resources for, and developing resources in specialized areas.

Based in Oakland, California, SELC is a fiscally sponsored project of Community Ventures, a California 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. All SELC projects are currently managed by volunteer attorneys.

August 8, 2010

New Book on Collaborative Consumption

This is great - a new book about the sharing movement will be released in just a few weeks: What's Mine is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption. Check out their website, including a couple cool videos!

May 10, 2010

Peer-to-Peer Car-Sharing On Its Way

Car-sharing happens on many levels. Your friend borrows your car for a day; you and your neighbor agree to share equal ownership and use of one car; you and five neighbors and friends share ownership of a pickup truck; you use ZipCar when you need to go the grocery store.

Soon, you may be able to share your personal vehicle or use vehicles belonging to your neighbors, using technology similar to that used by rental and car-sharing systems. It's called peer-to-peer car-sharing and it's catching on in the United States and abroad. In California, a peer-to-peer car-sharing bill has passed out of committee and is headed to the Assembly floor in May. A new site called RelayRides is launching person-to-person car-sharing in the Baltimore and Boston areas. And in the UK, WhipCar says peer-to-peer rentals area available across the country.
January 6, 2010

New App for Cab Sharing Could Help Travelers Share and Save

An article in today's Seattle Times about cab-sharing from Seattle-Tacoma Airport got me wondering why more cities don't facilitate this money-saving and ecologically sound form of transportation. The article features a new application for the iPhone called free service that would allow travelers at Sea-Tac to enter a destination and connect with other arriving travelers going to a similar destination, so that the travelers could share a cab from the airport. The app was developed by two Seattle residents who would like to expand to other airports.

Something I thought was cool is that the concept has met with no resistance from the taxi company with exclusive rights to service Sea-Tac, whose representatives said "If people want to be creative and save money and be more green, we're absolutely OK with that."

The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission is on board with taxi-sharing, too. In July of last year the "Commissioner's Corner" column addressed the different ways the Taxi and Limousine Commission was supporting taxi-sharing, including pilot programs to develop multi-fare meters, support group riding at reduced rates from taxi stands at points on busy corridors, and place "livery stands" at places like shopping centers.

In U.S. cities, where taxis usually supplement public transportation systems, cab-sharing is a great way for consumers to save money while, in many cases, generating additional revenue for the cab driver. In other parts of the world, taxis actually are public transportation. When I was in Amman, Jordan last year, we went everywhere by cab--there is no public transportation, and taxis are super cheap and always available. And according to Wikipedia, dozens of other countries use taxis as the main form of transportation, calling the service everything from "multi-hire taxi" to "taxibus."   
December 28, 2009

Nanny-Sharing: Finding the Right Fit Can Be Challenging

An interesting article in a recent Wall Street Journal describes the author's struggle to find an appropriate nanny-sharing setup for her infant daughter. The challenge is twofold: first, finding a family to share with, and then finding just the right nanny to care for your child.

It's probably best to face the two challenges in the order listed, so that you and the other sharers can hire the nanny together and be sure everyone is fully on board with that crucial choice. There are a lot of issues to negotiate in setting up the sharing arrangement, too--hours, transportation, what the children are to be fed, what types of activities you want them to be engaged in, and how you'll share costs and deal with taxes. All of these questions are resolvable, especially if you talk about them in advance--as with most sharing agreements, communication is key here.

Sharing child care has a ton of advantages. It saves money for everyone, conserves resources, and provides children with opportunities to socialize with others in a home environment. Challenging as it may be to find the right setup, once you do it's likely to benefit your family in the short and long term. 
December 23, 2009

Seattle Times Grapples with the Stickiness of Sharing

The Seattle Times' Pacific Northwest Magazine just featured a great article about sharing.  Something I love about the article is that writer Carol Ostrom seemed to search far and wide for examples of the most difficult sharing arrangements, and she grappled with some of our biggest fears about sharing. In fact, she interviewed me at great length about my own most challenging sharing experiences, and probed to learn about how they were resolved. As she puts it, most people's biggest fear around sharing relates to "c-c-conflicts." 

And I'm glad she chose to focus right in on this, because skeptical readers might otherwise roll their eyes an article that extols the virtues of sharing, without addressing the barriers.  This is especially important, because she didn't just write about simple sharing arrangements, such as lawnmower sharing.  She actually gave examples of what we might call EXTREME SHARING, including a moving example of organ sharing (donating a kidney to a stranger).  She even touches on the sharing of lovers among members of a commune (noting, however, that the commune members found that possessiveness and jealousies eventually got in the way of sharing everything). Very interesting stuff!
December 9, 2009

The Return of the Holiday Party: How Sharing Makes it Happen

Yup, it's that time of year again--holiday time. But it's also recession time, and businesses are spending less--and an easy place to cut costs is to reduce the costs of company events. One of the casualties of the recession has been the traditional company holiday party--but sharing is helping the tradition make a comeback. According to the New York Times, smaller companies can present parties on a budget by sharing the costs of venue and food with other companies. For example, a Philadelphia catering company offers Snow Balls, described as "all-inclusive, shared corporate holiday parties," as the solution to the difficulties of entertaining during the recession. A New Jersey hotel is offering similar options. The benefits extend beyond giving the employees an event to go to--organizers point out that the companies and their employees have the opportunity to network with the other businesses sharing the venue. Certainly, connecting with others is one of our favorite benefits of sharing, at holiday time and throughout the year. 

October 1, 2009

Shared Housing is also for the Mechanically Inclined

Today, there was yet another article about sharing in the New York Times - "The Modern Answer to the Commune," profiling the urban optimists who are forming shared housing around common values, sustainability, and, as usual, chickens.  (This past summer, the Times also covered cohousing and fruit sharing - mainstream media is really starting to notice the sharing revolution.)

Today's Times article focused primarily on younger adults coming together to share rental housing. It might appear from the article that shared housing appeals mainly to twenty-somethings.  But during many of my recent public speaking events, I met a LOT of graying-haired people interested in shared housing, and many of them are just as idealistic as the youth described in the Times. They are looking to live more sustainably, build a supportive community around them, and find new kinds of personal rewards in their housing arrangement.  The difference might be that the 40- to 60-somethings are more often in the market to buy, rather than rent, and they are thinking about a longer term living arrangement.

I was a little baffled by the part of the article that cited Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist, who thought the "idealized, small-scale communities they described reminded her of the hunting and gathering bands of pre-history."  She profiled the home-sharers as compassionate, emotive, verbal, and/or creative types. As a result, "she worried that other personality types, the sort who know how to fix the toaster or program the VCR, weren't being invited into these houses."

Somehow, I don't think this is going to be a problem.  These particular young folks are part of Generation DIY - they are the ultimate practitioners of do-it-yourself, fix your own bike, grow your own food, make things from recycled junk, build solar ovens, and rig the plumbing to recycle grey water. They do things like lead soldering workshops at the Brooklyn Skillshare.

And the fact that they are verbal and compassionate means they have the skills to express themselves, understand each other's needs, and navigate interpersonal conflict - all of which is far more crucial to their survival than the ability to fix a toaster.  They are resourceful and they will thrive.

Besides, if they really can't fix the toaster, I'm sure they'll find some other good use for it:


August 17, 2009

Shared Housing on the Increase in Recessionary Times

This morning's San Francisco Chronicle sports a front page article with the headline "Rooms for rent a sign of the times." The article discusses the financial advantages to sharing, including, for some people, the ability to stay in a home they might otherwise lose because of the inability to make rent or mortgage payments, and offers statistics about the rise in shared housing in the current recession.

Shared housing is great from an economic standpoint, but here are some of the other reasons it's cool (from Chapter 6 of The Sharing Solution):

  • Shared housing can be a gateway to ownership.
  • Shared housing can get you more for your money--like a larger yard or a hot tub.
  • Shared housing helps seniors and people with disabilities, who can share the cost of in-home care and other services.
  • Shared housing creates community and facilitates convenience--having other people around decreases isolation and offers support.
  • Shared housing saves the planet--did you know that 75% of the lumber produced in the U.S. goes into homebuilding? And the construction of new housing, as well as the maintenance of houses once built, tax the planet in innumerable ways. Sharing uses less energy and less stuff, and makes it easier to afford sustainable materials and systems (like solar or grey water).

There are some tricks to sharing successfully, though. Some of the most useful information in the Chronicle article is in a sidebar called "Resources," which offers tips from experienced sharers about how to have a happy housing share. We agree with everything said there, including taking your time choosing your roommates and checking references--and especially the tips about keeping things harmonious in your home, like the advice to write up an agreement, to discuss how you'll resolve disputes, and to address problems while they're still small.

To these excellent bits of advice we'd add the suggestion that you take some time to learn to be an effective communicator, so that when you address those small problems they stay addressed, rather than creating additional problems because you raised the issue in a way that wasn't comfortable for your roomie. We recommend highly Sharon Ellison's book, The Art of Non-Defensive Communication, available at the Powerful Non-Defensive Communication website.

July 15, 2009

The Carsharing Revolution Comes to Utah

The Salt Lake City Council approved a new ordinance this week allowing a carsharing company to start operating there. The city code had to be amended to make it happen, but U Car Share will start serving Salt Lake City residents within the next three months. U Car Share is a subsidiary of U-Haul, meaning it's probably more profit-driven than mission-driven like some of the original carsharing companies. But hey, it's one more city with a carsharing program and that is a good thing.